“And I—in righteousness I will see your face;
when I awake, I will be satisfied with seeing your likeness.”
- Psalm 17:15
I once heard a story about Tony Campolo (please help me with these facts, as it was all out of conversations and hearsay), who after having see the atrocious sight of a sweatshop in Latin America, came back home with a bid to do whatever he could to shut it down and restore dignity to the indigenous people he encountered. After petitioning and campaigning, he had helped to rid the town of the sweatshop. However, a new problem arose: the townspeople had lost their livelihood. Justice had come to the people so what place did they have to think that Campolo instead was the bringer of injustice? But that didn’t matter. They had work for their families before; to put food on their tables, send their kids to school and have a life for themselves. What we would call a “sweatshop” was their income and their security and shutting it down meant that it went all away overnight.
While I don’t know if this story is all truth or hearsay, it remains a great parable for us to glean from (and sorry to Mr. Campolo if he had nothing to do with the town or this story). It allows us to see a clear picture of justice is married to righteousness (see the previous article).
As people of faith who pursue righteousness and justice hand-in-hand, we will see that only through an intimate and intentional relationship with Jesus can there be holistic action and change. What does holistic mean or look like? Imagine sweatshops having to be forced to shut down, not because of petition and campaign, but because the people had support and funding to start their own factory, run by the town’s people with fair wages and practices. Imagine a kind of justice that doesn’t just see a homeless man receiving change for his next meal, but rather prophetically calls out to the man that still has a destiny rooted in God, with hopes and dreams waiting to be revived as he gets back on his feet, gets a job and establishes footing in society again. What do you see? What else can you imagine?
USHERING IN THE EVERLASTING
Glorious and majestic are his deeds,
and his righteousness endures forever.
Your righteousness is everlasting and your law is true.
I want us to reflect for a moment on “His righteousness endures forever” found in Psalms 111:3. When you think of all the acts of justice you see in the world, how many of them are everlasting and endure forever? Take our efforts in America to stop homelessness—in economic times like these it seems to only get worse. Take the efforts of the peace movement—hatred and wars still evade their efforts. The list goes on and on where it seems like we have the constant, uphill battle to bring Heaven’s righteousness and justice on earth. In light of all that we have learned about God’s righteous character, we know that God Himself isn’t lying to us to think that our earth can see everlasting righteousness. So how do we usher this in? I believe He is calling us into a new era where can release strategies of everlasting justice on this earth, driven by intimacy with King of Justice himself.
I’m sure you are wondering what does this “strategy through intimacy’ even look like. Or maybe you are currently engaged in a movement of justice and longing for it to be sustaining, everlasting and enduring. The simplest answer I can give you is prayer. But oh, how it is so much more my friends!
In the fall of 2008, I awoke from a dream where I heard God tell me “Everything flows from My presence”. It was only one of two times where I have had this happen. I found myself struggling to understand what He meant. As it relates to justice, I think rooting ourselves in the presence of God is the only way to find strategies that endure. Intimacy with any human being is never birthed of out you talking hours on end. It is the same way with the one who holds the scepter of justice, Jesus. It is about prayer, yes, but prayer that finds ourselves in the presence of God Himself. I don’t know about you, but I cannot accept anything less than that. In times such as these, I don’t think our world can either. Creation is groaning for us—the Church—to bring about “the restoration of all things” (Acts 3:20-21).
When I look at my own life and the things I have been exposed to that pull on my heartstrings, I have come to the habit of asking God to show me what His will is. Some ideas I have submitted to God would have been huge wastes of time, had I done them myself and had God not stopped me. However, if I am quiet enough and willing enough to let go of my own ideas, I find that more often than not, God loves takes my ideas and only wants to see them be extended further beyond anything I could ever do. (After all, we are all created in His image and able to create things the world has never seen. If you ask me, that is an awesome starting place when it comes to bringing justice!). It is His righteousness that is everlasting, so the intimacy is about aligning our well-intending heart and creative minds with His so people can truly and forever find freedom, chains can truly and forever be broken and lives truly and forever can be restored.
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath;
the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment
and its inhabitants die like flies.
But my salvation will last forever, my righteousness will never fail.
THE WARNING AND THE ENCOURAGEMENT
If only you had paid attention to my commands,
your peace would have been like a river,
your righteousness like the waves of the sea.
God tells Israel in the book of Isaiah of what they could have had if only they would have listened. They lost touch with their God and their ears were closed (48:8). It is my encouragement that we all remember to anchor ourselves in the presence of Jesus Himself. If we have the opportunity to spend even one moment with the one who holds the scepter to ushering in all justice on the earth, I don’t know why would ever turn down such an opportunity. Let’s meet Jesus! Let’s put our ear to Him so we can usher in Heaven’s strategies on the earth! May our justice be like a river and His righteousness like the waves of the sea!